Experts help electrify Australian mining
Cooperative works to assist mining sector's transition to EVs Metal Tech News - August 18, 2021
Last updated 8/24/2021 at 3:39pm
Experts from the University of Adelaide are leading a project focused on helping Australia's mining sector transition to more efficient and sustainable battery electric vehicles.
"About 30-50% of the total mine site energy usage is related to diesel-powered mining vehicles," said Ali Pourmousavi Kani, a lecturer at University of Adelaide's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. "This represents a significant proportion of current mining operational costs, and the prevalence of diesel fuel usage presents significant health and safety concerns."
The mining equipment electrification program, known as Assessment, is being funded by the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre, a collaboration of industry, government, and researchers focused on creating the tools, technologies, and skills to ensure Australia plays a leading role in the global battery revolution.
FBICRC members include BHP Nickel West, IGO Ltd., Energetics Pty Ltd., Galaxy Resources Ltd., Multicom Resources Ltd., the South Australian Department for Energy and Mining, Queensland Department of Energy and Public Works, the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia, and the University of Western Australia.
"This project is highly significant for the FBICRC as it serves as an important development and demonstration project of the uptake of battery technologies in mining vehicles and mobile equipment," said Jacques Eksteen, research director of the FBICRC.
The Assessment project, which has a budget of approximately A$2.8 million (US$2 million), will provide the Australian mining industry with a suite of decision-making tools and guidelines that will aid their transition towards BEVs and associated stationary machinery in their mining operations.
Working with Wen Soong and Nesimi Ertugrul, associate professors from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Kani will work on the design and operation of battery-supported electric mining vehicles and machinery for Assessment.
While lowering carbon emissions and taking advantage of other benefits mining electrification has to offer is something many Australian mining companies are interested in, sustainable production is particularly important to companies supplying the minerals and metals to the electric vehicle and low-carbon energy sectors.
FBICRC member BHP Nickel West recently cut a deal to supply Tesla with up to 18,000 metric tons of the nickel needed for the lithium-ion batteries powering its EVs per year.
"Sustainable low-carbon nickel is essential for our battery and electric vehicle customers," said BHP Nickel West, Asset President Eddy Haegel.
Already installing 38.1 megawatts of solar power capacity at its Nickel West mines, BHP Group could further lower the carbon footprint of mining and refining this battery metal with the ability to plug in its mining and haulage fleet into solar-generated power.
Further details on the solar power being installed at Nickel West can be read at Solar to help power BHP Nickel West mines in the August 4, 2021 edition of Metal Tech News.
"Mining is a critical industry in Australia. It is great to see a growing movement in this industry to reduce their carbon emissions in line with the global transition to renewable energy and electric transportation," said Kani. "Electric vehicles and machinery combined with partial or stand-alone renewable energy powered microgrids will provide a pathway to more efficient, sustainable and safer mining operations."